Art Nouveau

• Art Nouveau ‘launched’ in 1892 in
• Quickly spread to France and the
rest of Europe
• Inspiration from the English Arts
and Crafts movement (William
Morris) and developments in
wrought iron technology (Violletle-Duc)
• Closely associated with: the rise of
the industrial bourgeoisie and
regional movements for political
• It spread quickly through highquality, mass-produced images in
journals like The Studio
(lithography and

Art Nouveau is the first attempt to replace the
classical system of architecture and the
decorative arts (The Beaux Arts academies
It abandoned post-Renaissance realism;
inspirations came from Japan, the Middle Ages,
Lasted barely 15 years but many of its traits
incorporated into the subsequent avant-garde
Pressing question: how to preserve the historical
values of art under conditions of industrial
Art Nouveau approach, characteristic of later
avant-gardes as well: drawing from distant and
idealised past in order to find historically
justified yet absolutely new art
Preceded and influenced by the Arts and Crafts
movement, the two the developed concurrently,
modifying each other
Austria fused the two movements; Germany
influenced more by the Arts and Crafts, leading
to the creation of the Deutscher Werkbund:
alliance between industry and the decorative arts

book cover for Wren's City Churches (1883) . confirmed low quality of decorative products in industrial countries • Initiatives: Victoria and Albert Museum and the Department of Practical Art founded in 1852. similar actions taken in France Arthur Mackmurdo.Critical influences 1 The reform of the industrial arts • Art Nouveau is partly the result of a transformation in industrial or decorative arts initiated earlier in 19th Century in England and France • 1835 parliamentary commission set up to investigate the decline in artistic quality of machine-made objects – and consequent damage to the export market • 1851 Great Exhibition of Industry of all Nations in London: commercial and political success.

Marshall and Faulkner: context for artists to relearn crafts as if under the conditions of medieval guilds His initiative followed up by others creating the Arts and Crafts movement France di!erent: politically influential art establishment + the abolition of guilds during the French Revolution did not destroy artisanal traditions as the Industrialised Revolution did in England For both countries the medieval guild is the model. 1959 . Bexleyheath Philip Webb. in France this was combined with the Rococo Red House. the reform for him impossible under industrial capitalism: artist alienated from the product of labour In 1861 Morris sets up Morris.Institutional reforms result in di!erent developments: • • • • • • England: the reform of the arts dominated privately by William Morris (1834-96) artist and poet As for John Ruskin.

2 Viollet-le-Duc and structural rationalism • • • • • • • • • • • Use of iron as an expressive architectural medium – the second big influence after Arts and Crafts The use of iron dominated the debate between the traditionalists and progressive-positivist architects throughout the 19th Century in France Viollet-le-Duc’s theories and designs associated iron with the reform of the decorative arts An ‘idealist decorative movement’ grafted onto the ‘positivist structural tradition’ Viollet-le-Duc: rational core of Gothic architecture is the only true basis for a modern architecture Art Nouveau derived the following principles from Viollet-le-Duc: The exposure of the armature of a building as a visually logical system The spatial organisation according to function rather than symmetry and proportion The importance of materials as generators of form The concept of organic form derived from the Romantic movement The study of vernacular domestic architecture His theory and designs became ‘the rallying point’ for those opposed to the Beaux-Arts. elsewhere in Europe and in North America . in France.

’ • The Symbolists did not reject the sciences.3 Symbolism • • • • • • The final two decades of the nineteenth century: important change The century had been dominated by the philosophy Positivism (Auguste Comte 1798-1857). Scream. they looked on science as the verification of subjective states of mind Edvard Munch. the home of Positivism: increased influence of German philosophy Symbolist movement in literature led the attack: art should not imitate appearances but should reveal an essential underlying reality • Belgian symbolist poet Emile Verhaeren: ‘…in [Symbolism]…the fact and the world become a mere pretext for the idea. a belief in progress made possible by science and technology In literature and art Naturalism corresponded to Positivism By 1880s belief in it is eroding together with liberal politics – several political events contributed to this. appearing ultimately as dreams in our mind. they are treated as appearance. including the European economic depression that started in 1873 France. 1893 . condemned to incessant variability.

ornament no longer space-filling – ornament and empty space establish a dialogue (possible influence of Japanese art) • Boundaries between form and ornament become blurred . ornament merges with the object and animates it with life • Consequences: objects become single organic entity. first found in English book illustration and French ceramics in the 1870s and 1880s • Imitation of nature subordinated to the organisation of plane surfaces • Functional dependency of ornament leads to a paradoxical reversal: instead of obeying the form of the object.Art Nouveau in Belgium and France Formal principles: • Characteristic motif of Art Nouveau: plant-like form. rather than (classical) aggregation of parts.

’ Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) Principles of Modern Architectonic Beauty (1917) . of which it is an extension. and we recognise the meaning and justification of ornament in its function. This function consists in ‘structuring’ the form and not adorning it…The relations between the ‘structural and dynamographic’ ornament and the form or surfaces must be so intimate that the ornament will seem to have determined the form.• Van de Velde chair – ornament and structure indistinguishable ‘Ornament completes form.

• In many ensembles and room individual pieces of furniture absorbed into a larger spatial and plastic unity. Berlin . Havana Cigar Shop 1899.• Desire to extend beyond the object – whole interiors. Henry van de Velde.

1913-14. Germany . Cologne. Werkbund Theatre.Brussels • In 1892 Willy Finch (1854-1936) and Van de Velde inaugurate a decorative art movement based on Arts and Crafts Society • Van de Velde lectures follow Morris in defining art as the expression of joy in work but recognise the necessity of machine production – a contradiction never resolved Van de Velde.

Victor Horta (18611947) • Beaux-Arts training. 10 years of work in a neoclassical style modified by structural rationalism of Viollet-leDuc • 1893 private house for Emile Tassel • First in a series of houses for the Belgian professional elite • Combination of Violletle-Duc’s exposed metal structure with ornamental motifs from the French and English decorative arts .

accented by the use of glass and mirror (recall theatre foyers – houses intended for social display) • Structure dissolves into ornament Hotel Van Eetvelde. spatially fluid connections. the visual and social hub of the house • Reception rooms and conservatories of the piano nobile. Solvay.• Tassel. 1895 . Van Eetvelde all designed between 1892 and 1895 ingenious range of solutions to narrow sites in Brussels • Plan divided into 3 sections – middle is the top-lit staircase.

stone. iron and glass • Internally: the framework is exposed . Brussels 1897-1900 (demolished 1965) • Built for the Belgian Workers’ Socialist Party • The principles of Viollet-le-Duc pursued to their logical conclusion • Brick and stone vernacular architecture exploited to reveal the construction: brick.Victor Horta Maison du Peuple.

political connotations • 1895 German art dealer Siegfried Bing opens a gallery in Paris called L’Art Nouveau • Van de Velde designed three rooms for it • Hector Guimard (1867-1942) integrates the new decorative principles into a coherent architectural style • Stronger allegiance to Viollet-le-Duc even than Horta’s • Maison Coilliot 1897.France • Art Nouveau in France closely related to that of Belgium but without the socialist. early work based on Viollet’s illustrations . Lille.

he designs the Castle Beranger in Paris (1894-98) • In the Paris Metro entrances (c.1900) he pushed the analogy between metal structure and plant form further than anything Horta did .• Impressed by Horta’s work in Brussels.

support a rather high cupola. with bays filled with pale yellow stained glass. eight in number. like the sides. demolished in 1905 • One of the major achievements of Structural Rationalism. completed in 1901. alongside Horta’s Maison du Peuple ‘ main branches. The framework is of steel. 1902 . Humber de Romans concert hall. but the metal covered with mahogany…the result is the most elaborate roof ever conceived by a French architect.’ Fernand Mazade. pierced.• Guimard. through which an abundance of light finds its way into the hall.

he uses brick (groin vaults in the spirit of Viollet-le-Duc) Berlage’s furniture anticipates De Stijl and Constructivists . the other by a more rationalist approach.Dutch Art Nouveau • • Split into two groups. but instead of metal structures. influenced more by Violletle-Duc and Arts and Crafts Structural and rationalist influences pronounced in Hendrick Petrus Berlage (1856-1934) • • • Neo-Romanesque after 1890. uses Art Nouveau ornaments sparingly to emphasise structural junctions Houses organised with central top-lit halls. one influenced by the curvilinear Belgian movement. basic volumes articulated and structural materials exposed.

not the sketching of façades. Amsterdam 1897-1903 • • • • Competition 1883. A spatial envelope is established by means of walls whereby a space is manifested according to the complexity of the walling. he gets the commission This is an architecture of explicit construction: ‘Before all else the wall must be shown naked in all its sleek beauty and anything fixed on it must be shunned as an embarrassment’ ‘The art of the master builder lies in this. despite being awarded 4th place. while the granite marks the points of structural transference and bearing .’ Berlage The development of the overall layout and form was one of simplification Load-brearing brick structure is in accordance with the principles of Structural Rationalism.Berlage. Exchange. in the creation of space.

1915 • • • • • • The logic applied to individual buildings is taken into the immediate urban context but also the urban context and socio-political commitment in general Deplored the disurbanising tendency of the English garden city. postulated in the Exchange.Berlage. Amsterdam South. cities have a supreme cultural importance 1901: commissioned to prepare a plan for Amsterdam South The insistence on enclosure. some principles taken from Camillo Sitte Served by the mass transport of the electric tram 1915: revises the plan. is now taken to the street. incorporates Haussmann-like avenues in order to establish a continuity of the urban environment . 1901.

in Catalonia it was Catholic.Modernisme in Barcelona • • • • • • • • Modernisme – the name for Art Nouveau in Catalan Predates the Belgian movement by several years Inspired independently by the publications of Viollet-le-Duc and Arts and Crafts movement Modernisme more closely related to the nineteenth-century eclecticism than the Art Nouveau of France and Belgium 1888 Lluis Domenech I Montener (1859-1923) publishes the article ‘In Search of a National Architecture’ The new industrial bourgeoisie of Catalonia saw Modernisme as an urban symbol of national progress but while Belgium associated Art Nouveau with an anti-Catholic international socialism. nationalist and politically conservative In the early works Moorish motifs used to suggest regionalism Historicist ‘inventions’ mixed with new structural ideas (exposed iron beams) .

subjective architecture that became a popular symbol of national identity • Cultural and personal anxieties at the core of his architecture will fascinate the surrealists in 1930s .Antoni Gaudi i Cornet the dominant figure (1852-1926) • Worked according to two principles: 1 derived from Viollet-le-Duc – study of architecture starts with the mechanical conditions of building 2 imagination of the architect should be free from all stylistic conventions • Work characterised by free association of forms suggestive of animal. geological or vegetal formations • Structure imitates irregular forms found in nature • Intimate.

The Sagrada Familia. 1900-1914 . (1883…) Park Guell.

Margaret Macdonald. key figure. Herbert MacNair. his wife. her husband Highly stylised blend of figurative and plant forms. Frances Macdonald. use of white. theoretical or organisational focus Glasgow’s New Art related to the distinctive institutional.Glasgow • • • • • • Closer to continental European Art Nouveau than Arts and Crafts movement in England No obvious political. artist. severe rectilinear geometry. occasional deep tones . commercial and industrial formations of the city New form evolved around 1890s ‘The Four’: Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928). decorative value of the line. light pastel colours. he sister.

House for an Art Lover competition (1900) influential in Austria and Germany (Ho!mann’s Palais Stoclet) Glasgow School of Art (1899.• • Mackintosh. 1907-09) .


art rooted in indigenous culture.Vienna • The concepts behind Symbolism and Art Nouveau strongly influenced by German Romanticism and philosophical Idealism • This finds expression in the work of the Viennese art historian Alois Riegel (1858-1905): decorative arts were the origin of all artistic expression. science and the Cartesian spirit • In the Austro-Hungarian Empire this conflict of concepts underscored by the conflict between the metropolis (liberal and rationalist) and the ethnic minorities seeking to assert identity. to whom Art Nouveau became an emblem of political and cultural freedom . not derived from a universal natural law • This related to the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris • Stands in contrast with the ideas derived from the Enlightenment – architecture aligned with progress.

like the functional glass and metal banking hall.• Liberal. rationalist spirit in Austria epitomised by Otto Wagner (1841-1918) • On the other side of the ideological divide from Camillo Sitte • For Wagner the modern city should consist of a regular grid with new building types • Post O"ce Savings Bank. these are both symbols and manifestations of modernity’ (Colquhoun) . Vienna (1904-06) his rationalism reaches its peak • Does not abandon the allegorical language of classicism but extends it – apart from figurative ornament there are also redundant boltheads on the facade • ‘These.

• 1893 Wagner appointed director of the School of Architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts • His two famous students: Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908) and Josef Ho!mann (1870-1956) • Olbrich’s influence on Wagner: decorative motifs of Jugendstil (the German Art Nouveau) Early careers of Olbrich and Ho!mann the same – both belong to Wiener Secession. a group that split from the academy in 1897. both worked in architecture and the decorative arts • • The Secession marked the introduction of Jugendstil into Austria .

• After a few years both abandon Van de Velde’s dynamic integration of ornament and structure and work in a more rectilinear organisation of planar surfaces and geometric ornament • A"nity both with Wagner’s classicism and the late Arts and Crafts designers • Olbrich’s artists’ colony in Darmstadt are variations of the theme of the English ‘freestyle’ house .

• Ho!mann’s Palais Stoclet in Brussels (1905-11) is a Gesamtkunstwerk – a ‘total work of art’: murals by Gustav Klimt and furniture and fittings by the architect (close to Mackintosh’s Hill House and House for an Art Lover) • Over the next five years both architects turned to classical eclecticism (Biedermeier style) .